What is a Paramedic to RN program?
It is not uncommon for experienced paramedics to want to take their career to the next level. Yet the idea of starting over completely can be daunting. But you don't have to start over completely. There are programs that will recognize your current level of training and experience so that you do not have to repeat coursework that you may already know, or even be an expert in. Paramedic to registered nurse (RN) programs are specially designed for people like you. These programs will prepare you with nursing theory and nursing specific courses, as well as clinical experiences so that you will be equipped to take the NCLEX and begin working as an RN. These programs can take 1 to 2 years to complete depending on the school and whether or not you attend full time. They are often referred to as “Bridge Programs” since they allow you to bypass aspects of the Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs so that you enter later in the program and receive credit for you current level of training. Keep in mind that each school will have a set of requirements that you must meet before applying. These can include a certain number of years of experience as a paramedic as well as pre-requisite coursework.
Why Should I Do a Paramedic to RN program?
As a nurse you will be have a higher salary and more autonomy and education to make important clinical decisions regarding your patients. While you can continue to work in emergency care as an RN you can also change to another specialty. See below for more examples of the types of environments you can work in. As an RN you will also have more flexibility to continue advancing your career if you want to. Once you have your RN you can pursue your BSN, MSN, or DNP to take your nursing career to the next level.
Entrance Requirements for Paramedic to RN Programs
Requirements for entrance will depend on the universities you apply to. Mesa Community College has a Paramedic to RN program that offers a good example of what you can expect in terms of entrance requirements:
- You must have a high school diploma or your GED. You will need to submit your transcripts when you apply.
- Additionally, there are certain pre-requisite courses you will have to take. These may be:
- Chemistry with lab
- Anatomy and Physiology I and II
- College level math
- English Composition
- Pharmacology & Med Administration II
- You will need to pass an admission exam as a part of your application.
- Your paramedic license must be active.
- You must have 1 year minimum of paramedic experience in the past 3 years.
- You may also need letters of recommendation for your application.
- A resume will help to highlight your experience.
- You may have to pay an application fee.
Online Paramedic to RN Programs
Most schools in most fields offer some sort of online option for their programs and paramedic to RN programs are no different. If you desire increased flexibility during your education so that you can better balance your life commitments. Online programs allow you to complete coursework remotely and can significantly lessen the amount of time you have to spend on campus. Professors can assign work remotely for you to complete at home and in some cases your classes will even be held online! When you're applying be sure to talk to you prospective schools about how they assist you with coordinating your clinical experiences.
What Will I Study While Earning My RN?
As a paramedic you already have a solid foundation in healthcare. The courses you will complete as a part of your RN program will fill in the gaps of knowledge that you do not have. These courses prepare you to take the NCLEX exam and become an RN. The courses you take will depend on your individual program, but in general you can expect to take classes like those offered at Belmont College:
- Paramedic Transitional Nursing
- Concepts of Family Nursing
- Nursing Seminar
- Acute Care Concepts
- Transition to Professional Role
- Interpersonal Communications
You can check with your individual state board of nursing (BON) to see how many clinical hours you are required to complete during your RN education. Clinical hours are supervised hands on nursing experience that allow you to put into practice what you've learn and perfect your skills in a safe manner. Most states require around 500 clinical hours for you to sit for the NCLEX. During your clinical rotations you will be supervised by an experienced nurse who will help you develop your skills and knowledge.
How Much Will it Cost?
Nursing school is expensive. This can often be a deterrent for people seeking to further their education, especially if they are already in a healthcare field. Luckily for you your paramedic to RN program will be shorter and cheaper than a traditional RN program. Additionally, since RNs are in such high demand in many parts of the country there are plenty of services that will help you pay back your student debt. When you are searching for programs to apply to, be sure to check out public schools or community colleges. Price will depend on the type of bridge program you complete.
- University of Arkansas Little Rock: $18,910 for the program
- Mesa Community College: $4,010 for the program. Note: this program prepares you to enter into the ADN program at the college a little bit ahead of other students. This cost does not include the ADN program costs. Check your schools to be sure what is included in your bridge program costs.
Once you are an RN there are various ways in which you can get your debt paid off. Many of the loan forgiveness programs available are incentives for nurses to work in areas that desperately need healthcare. These areas are typically referred to as being “medically underserved.” Check out the Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. They will help you pay off your debt if you commit to working in underserved areas. This can help motivate you to enroll in that paramedic to RN program and start your career as a nurse! You also look at the Perkins Loan Cancellation, military programs, and repayment programs offered through individual hospitals.
You can also use our state guides to help you find scholarships that are offered on a state by state basis.
How Much Do RNs Earn?
Nursing is a competitive field, and with the flexibility you have to continuously advance your career, your long term financial growth options are quite large. As an RN you will already be making around $66,640 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you choose to work in an urban area you will likely make more than if you work in rural one. Additionally, if you work for a private hospital versus a public one or a community health center your salary may be greater. However, this may also limit your opportunities to do loan forgiveness programs that require you to work in underserved areas. What state you work in will also affect your salary. Some states such as Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, Alaska, and Oregon pay nurses between $80,000 and $96,000 per year.
What are Some Specialty Areas I Could Work in as an RN?
Coming from a paramedic role where you are a first responder working with emergent health issue with patients, you will be able to stay in that specialty as an RN or branch out. The options are endless. Some specialty areas like an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) may require you to have some nursing experience before you can work there, but this will likely depend on the hospital and your individual paramedic experience. Here are some examples of areas where you can work as an RN:
- School Nurse: Students will rely on you when they are sick, need medications, vaccines, health education and more. You may even get your summers off!
- Postpartum: On a postpartum floor you will care for mother's and babies in the days following birth and help the whole family adjust to their new life.
- Labor and Delivery: Here you will help soon to be mothers through labor, delivery, and immediately after giving birth.
- Oncology: You will be a vital part of the healthcare team caring for patients with cancer who are in treatment.
- Emergency Department: As an ED nurse you will take your paramedic skills to the next level continuing care for patients when they arrive to the hospital.
- Medical Surgical Floor: When patients come out of surgery or are hospitalized for a acute conditions they will rely on you to provide them with care as they heal and prepare for discharge.
- Telemetry Nurse: Telemetry nurse monitor patients vital signs closely so that they can intervene if care does not go as planned.
- Operating Room: As an OR nurse you will be responsible for ensuring that the patient is stable and healthy during surgery. You may also assist in the surgical procedures.
- Trauma Nurse: As a trauma nurse you will care for people who have been in life threatening accidents or have severe health issues. You will likely work with the emergency department team and may see some overlap from your paramedic days.
- Traveling Nurse: With this nursing position you will be able to travel the country (maybe even the world) and spend time in various specialties caring for patients.
4 Steps To Register for the NCLEX
Your school should play an active role in preparing you for the NCLEX. Make sure you have plenty of time to go through all the steps for registration and studying so that you are not rushing at the last minute. Check out these steps to help you prepare for the big day:
- Be sure to look at your state's BON website so that you can sign up to take the NCLEX. You can find information about your states's BON on the NCBSN website.
- Your BON will also tell you what you need to be eligible to take the NCLEX.
- Pearson VUE is where you will register for the actual exam . You will need your program code to do this! Your school can help you with this step if it is a bit confusing.
- Don't forget to take advantage of our NCLEX tips and practice exams!